The Session #121 Round-up

The SessionA bit of a lighter-than-usual turnout for this month’s edition of The Session, which was all about Bock. Aside from my own post I tracked seven others via comments to the blog or on Twitter. If I missed anybody, let me know and I will update this roundup.

Updated 3/8 (see below)

My own post meandered around several paths, from the styles to specific beers to a look way back on previous bocky Session. I also managed to write my print article on bocks that week.

Gareth from the blog Barrel Aged Leeds starts us off with his post throwing it back a few years to Stella Artois Bock: “My first thought when I saw the topic for this month was about as far removed from ‘craft’ beer as it is possible to get. My mind wandered back to 2005, when I was definitely not ‘into’ beer – pretty much every purchase I made would have been at the supermarket, and one such trudge through the aisles turned up something new, and to me at the time, exciting – Artois Bock.” It’s a nice bit of cultural history and personal reminiscence about a beer I’d not been aware of. Gareth also gets bonus points for having his Session post up early, on the 28th.

For Boak & Bailey the topic of bock left them in a pickle: “You see, in multiple UK cities over the course of several weeks, we haven’t seen a single Bock for sale. Perhaps surprisingly there was a Cornish Bock from St Austell (very decent, too) but if it still exists, it’s in deep hiding. So we were going to swerve this Session altogether until, researching an article on Michael ‘The Beer Hunter’ Jackson last week, we got thinking about Dortmunder.” As I wrote myself, I’ve noticed something of a dearth of bocks as well.

Bocks are a bit of a bugbear for The Beer Nut, who’s had some less-than-stellar experiences with them. “Our topic is bock, which is a bit of a four-letter word for me: monosyllabic and stark, conjuring up equally stark, harshly bittered, sticky golden beers. I do not usually have a fun time with German bock. Dutch autumn bock I do quite like, but I think that’s out of bounds for today.” A tasting of Weissenoher Bonator Doppelbock yields this conclusion which I love: “I guess, like the totemic goats that usually adorn its marketing, bock has its uses, can even be quite cuddly, but is never to be fully trusted.”

Derrick Peterman over at Ramblings of a Beer Runner has a Brief Ode to Bocks Past and Present: “Bock is the very first beer style I became aware of back when I grew up in the small Ohio town of Bowling Green in the 70’s. When March rolled around, my dad would eagerly bring home a six-pack of Rolling Rock Bock, a departure his usual Rolling Rock’s flagship Lager…. I guess Bock beers are pretty old school these days. In an era where “craft beer” and “IPA’s” are becoming synonymous the way “beer” and “light Lager” once was, there just doesn’t seem to be a lot of enthusiasm from most breweries to brew Bocks.” Derrick finishes his Ode with a node to Gordon Biersch’s Blonde Bock.

Author Amy Mittelman excerpts her book Brewing Battles, of which I was previously unaware, to dig into the post-Prohibition history of how bock beer became fixed as a spring release in the United States. “The editors [of Modern Brewer magazine] felt that setting a specific date to begin the season was imperative. “On that day, every Bock Beer campaign should break — break like the first crash of thunder announcing the awakening of Spring! Festivals and displays should be timed to start with and follow the opening blast.” The possibilities for events and advertising were limitless and included potential nationwide Billy Goat contests which would culminate in the crowning of “King Bock.” New York City held such a contest in 1936 and was the model for this proposal.”

The venerable Alan of A Good Beer Blog starts with a great title—Bock — Unloved And Sorta Local. “Bock does not demand respect and it no longer attracts many of the inquisitive. Yet, I asked in 2009 whether Mahr’s Weisse Bock was the greatest smelling beer of all time. I must have once had an interest. A year later I tweeted my admiration for Koningshoeven Bock. Indeed, as recently as just three years ago, I posted about two Canadian craft takes on bock that I had received as samples.”

Jack Perdue over at Deep Beer breaks down the various difference of Bocks in a Spy vs. Spy inspired post: “I will attempt to highlight the differences — notes at the end of each style — of what sets one apart from the next. Where appropriate, I’ve added a styles comparison offered from the BJCP.” A good primer for anyone learning about the styles.

Added on 3/8: Thomas Cizauskas at Yours for Good Fermentables writing about being Bock Lucky and documenting his beers with pictures: “In late winter and early spring, I look for bock beers. If I’m fortunate, I’ll find them in local pubs, such as this bock, brewed in Germany at Ayinger Privatbrauerei, which I found served on draught in Virginia. I call Celebrator a favorite; it’s often called a doppelbock.” [click through for the pics]